COLUMBIA, Mo. — It may have taken a little while, but right now, Jeremiah Tilmon looks like the guy Mizzou fans thought they were getting out of high school in East St. Louis.
Tilmon is averaging career highs in points (10.4), rebounds (7.8), field goal percentage (.600) through eight games and has helped the Tigers to their highest ranking in the AP poll since the 2012-2013 season.
Tilmon also has two double-doubles on the season, a last-second three point play to beat Bradley and a career high 25 point performance on the road against Arkansas.
The senior now has a clear focus of what he needs to do on the court, and is letting the rest just fall into place.
"Just keep going and being consistent. Playing hard and know what I'm playing for," Tilmon said. "My focus when I play is to get the double doubles, but I know I need to get the rebounds and the points will come. For me as a big I know I need to get 10 boards a game."
Something else Tilmon is excelling at is staying out of foul trouble, which had been a massive problem earlier in his career. So far this season, Tilmon is averaging under 3 fouls a game, and has only fouled out in one game.
So, what's changed?
"Honestly I don't really know. I don't want to say I've done something specific. I've been dealing with it for the past few years now and I kind of know how the game is gonna go," Tilmon said. "So, in previous years what I've been doing on the court, like having attitudes with the refs, like that's not gonna help me at all. Just because they called it doesn't mean they're gonna take it back. So, just moving on to the next thing and keeping my head."
It's been a sometimes hard road for Tilmon as a Tiger, and he's faced his share of adversity, including an injury that knocked him out for half of last season.
Though the hard times, Tilmon has found he can lean on his coaches, especially fellow East St. Louis native Cuonzo Martin, to help him persevere.
"I feel like I've always had coach Marco and coach Martin there to help me through things, because they know where I'm from and can relate to what I'm going through. So they know what I'm going through," Tilmon said. "I never really like to call back home to my parents and nag them, because I feel like I have people here I can talk to instead of having my family back home worried."
As for Tilmon's relationship with Martin, it goes deeper than just what happens on the court.
"He's always meant a lot to me since my first time meeting him. He always shows us how to be men and step into the real world," Tilmon said. "He builds a relationship with you that's going to last long and that it's about more than basketball."
While Tilmon and the Tigers may be rolling now, this senior-laden group has bigger things in mind than just being ranked high in the AP poll. They want to win in March. And Tilmon wants another shot on the biggest stage in college hoops in the NCAA Tournament.
"I haven't been there since my freshman year so it would be nice to have another experience there before I leave," Tilmon said.